Playing As Black In Chess

You can’t play the white pieces every single chess game. For every game you play as white, you’ll have to play a game as black.

Although this might seem like only a tiny difference at first glance, playing as black actually changes everything.

Is playing black a disadvantage?

If you play with the white pieces, you get to play the first move. This means that at least theoretically you will always be ahead of your opponent.

However, the first move advantage is rather small and converting it into a victory is no simple task.

If you lose a tempo due to a slightly inaccurate move, you can lose your entire advantage.

So it’s no surprise that for average chess players, the first move advantage is nice to have, but won’t be enough to guarantee a win.

If you take a look at a large chess database with grandmaster game, you can see that the average result is 55% for the white pieces and 45% for the black pieces.

Database showing white’s winning chances for the potential first moves white can make.

This means you have roughly a 5% higher chance of winning if you play the white pieces, and a 5% lower chance of winning with the black pieces.

The first move advantage is considerably more important for strong grandmasters and super grandmasters that make almost no inaccurate moves.

These elite chess players normally aim to win with the white piece and will be content with a draw when playing the black pieces.

Whereas average chess players try to win with both the white and black pieces.

The lower your rating, the smaller the first move advantage becomes.

Why some chess players prefer black

Although white is theoretically slightly better, there are still plenty of chess players that prefer to play with the black pieces.

I know many club players that have a higher winning percentage with black than with white.

This is normally due to psychological reasons or a preferred play style.

As black, you get to see what your opponent is planning to do first, and then you can strike back accordingly.

So if you like to lure your opponent into a trap or overextension, then you might prefer the black pieces.

Moreover, not every chess move is a good move. And a weak player might use that extra move as white to weaken their position rather than strengthen it.

Finally, there are some openings you can play or positions you can get easily with the black pieces but not with the white pieces. For example, a Sicilian dragon or Benko gambit.

So if you like a specific chess opening for black, you might also prefer to play the black pieces.

How to play black

There are a few things you can do if you notice that your results with the white pieces are a lot better than with the black pieces.

It’s important to realize your first goal with the black pieces is to equalize.

Since white has the first move advantage, you start the game with a small disadvantage as black.

So instead of starting the game with all guns blazing, aim to equalize first and only start thinking of winning the game if you notice your opponent making some mistakes.

Next up, you should prepare an opening repertoire as black.

Many beginners are motivated enough to learn a few openings with the white pieces, but never get to studying openings for black.

Which is understandable, because it can take a lot of work. The moves e4, d4, c4, and Nf3 are all excellent first moves for white, so you should know how to answer all of these moves.

But there are a few shortcuts you can use to minimize the time spend on studying theory.

For example, you can play the same opening with the white and black pieces. The queen’s gambit is a great opening with both the white and black pieces.

You can also play an opening system that is nearly the same with the white and black pieces. For example, the King’s Indian attack as white and the King’s Indian defense as black have a lot of similarities.

Finally, a lot of chess openings transpose into each other if you play the right move order. So if you are clever when picking your openings as black, you can use the same two openings to answer c4, d4, e4, and Nf3.

Chess openings for black

There are a lot of openings to choose from as black. So I’m sure there are a few that you might like.

Normally, white starts by grabbing the center with moves such as d4 or e4. There are roughly three ways to respond to this.

First, you can fight for the center right away by placing your own pawns and pieces in the center. This is the most classical and principled way to black as black.

Some examples include the French defense, Queen’s gambit declined, and Petrov defense.

Reading my articles on king’s pawn openings and queen’s pawn openings will give you a good overview of all the solid openings.

You can also go for a modern opening. In these openings, you give white complete control of the center so you can attack and undermine it in the future.

These openings are a little more difficult to learn, but they result in very fun and exciting games.

Some modern openings that come to mind are the Pirc defense and the King’s Indian defense.

Many of these modern openings are fianchetto openings.

Finally, you can play a gambit opening if you want to play fighting chess even with the black pieces.

Most of these gambits aren’t 100% theoretically sounds, so they aren’t played a lot at the grandmaster level. But for the average chess player, a gambit can still be a deadly weapon.

For more information, you can read my article on the best gambits for black.


Since white gets to make the first move, you’ll always start the game with a small disadvantage as black.

As a result, most players have slightly better results with the white pieces.

But if your performance playing black is really bad, it’s probably a sign something is wrong.

Learning a handful of chess openings for black will fix most problems.

Additionally, it’s important to realize that you first need to equalize as black before you can go on the offensive.